The son of a runaway slave turned minister and a schoolteacher, Paul Robeson proved to be an unique figure in American history. A tall, handsome man with a commanding stage presence and mellifluous, b...
Theatre director/actor Phillip Hayes Dean has died at the age of 83. Dean passed away following an aortic aneurysm on Monday (14Apr14) in Los Angeles.
The playwright was best known for his Paul Robeson Broadway production, which opened in New York in 1978 and starred James Earl Jones as the singer and actor.
He most recently directed a revival of the play at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in California with Keith David as the lead.
His other works include The Last American Dixieland Band, Moloch Blues, The Owl Killer and Dink's Blues and The Sty of the Blind Pig.
The opening of a new Los Angeles production based on the life of actor/singer Paul Robeson has been postponed after its star Keith David was injured. Phillip Hayes Dean's stage show, titled Paul Robeson, was due to be unveiled at the city's Ebony Repertory Theatre on Friday night (14Mar14) but the opening has now been delayed until further notice.
The move comes after There's Something About Mary star David, who plays the title role, sustained a knee injury.
Wren T. Brown, the theatre's founder, says, "Keith was crestfallen that he couldn't do the show."
The company is hoping to resume performances on 21 March (14).
Paul Robeson was a pioneering black actor and singer who rose to prominence on Broadway during World War II. The play about his life debuted on the Great White Way in 1978 with Star Wars actor James Earl Jones playing Robeson.
"I wish!" That's what pop crooner Enrique Iglesias told The Mail on Sunday's Popworld magazine about his so-called romantic relationship with bawdy tennis player Anna Kournikova. Iglesias insists that they had a great time shooting the video for his new single "Escape," but that's where it ended. "She's crazy, but in a cool way. I heard rumors that I would not kiss her because she had a cold sore," he told the magazine, "but that's not true."
Who knew comedian Bill Murray was such a baseball aficionado? Murray has apparently taken an interest in the new minor league baseball team in Brockton, Mass., and showed up unannounced at the team's offices last month to tour its new $17 million stadium. The Brockton Rox's principal owner, Van Schley, told The Associated Press that Murray might become an owner in the future.
Former Miss America Pageant CEO Robert L. Beck, who was fired in the wake of a rules-change scandal that would have let women who had been divorced or had abortions compete for the Miss America title, is taking the organization to court. Blake is suing the Miss America Organization for several issues, including wrongful termination and severance pay, according to the AP.
Franz Reuther, the man behind the 1989 Milli Vanilli lip-synching debacle, is in hot water again. According to the AP, Reuther's company demolished a 1928 mansion in Miami Beach, Fla., despite being denied permission by city officials. His company could be fined as much as $120,000.
It looks as though Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling might have a case of writer's block. The popular children's author is late on delivering her fifth installment, entitled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The book was originally scheduled for publication for July 2002, but Scholastic, the book's publisher, told stockholders it now expects to publish before June 2003, The New York Times reports.
Four weeks into the filming of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, director Jonathan Mostow has replaced newcomer Sophia Bush with Claire Danes. According to Variety, Mostow felt Bush looked too young for the part.
In the Biz
Jennifer Lopez will star in and produce a film based on a modern version of Prosper Merimee's 19th-century short story Carmen for Universal Pictures, according to Variety. Craig Pearce, who co-wrote Moulin Rouge, will revamp the story, and Lopez will star as the Gypsy temptress.
The estate of late actor Walter Matthau has sued Columbia Pictures for breach of contract over profits on the films Cactus Flower and California Suite. The suit alleges Matthau was entitled to gross participation on the two films and claims Columbia reported only 20 percent of home video receipts, failed to report full cable receipts and obtained secret profits, according to Variety. The suit seeks at least $1 million in damages. Matthau died at age 79 in July 2000.
Emilio Estevez has written the script for and will likely star in a project tentatively entitled Bobby about the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy, Variety reports. Shooting is scheduled to begin in August.
More on the Kennedy front: CBS has commissioned a TV movie based on Richard Blow's biography of John F. Kennedy Jr., American Son. According to Variety, the network is currently looking for a writer to adapt the book, which hits bookstores this month.
The Price Is Right veteran Bob Barker will host the 29th annual Daytime Emmy Awards live from New York on May 17, Variety reports. Barker, whose Price Is Right is now in its 30th season, will also be competing in the game-show host category against Alex Trebek, Ben Stein and Nancy Pimental, and Pat Sajak. The Daytime Emmys will air from 9-11 p.m. on CBS.
Compensation, a film about black culture in Chicago, Ill., is one of four winners of the 2002 Paul Robeson Awards at the 28th annual Newark Black Film Festival in Newark, N.J., the AP reports. Other winners included the short narrative Monster, the documentary Keep on Walking and the experimental film In Check. The festival begins June 26 at the Newark Museum, and the award-winning films--chosen from 41 entries--will be screened Aug. 7.
George Sidney, who directed dozens of musicals, including Annie Get Your Gun, Show Boat and Kiss Me Kate, died at his home Sunday of complications from lymphoma. He was 85. The former child actor presided over the Screen Directors Guild for 16 years, founded Hanna-Barbera productions and worked with many legends--including Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Elvis Presley.
Roy Schatt, the photographer known for his photographs of actor James Dean, died Saturday at his Manhattan home of congestive heart failure. He was 92. Schatt photographed a multitude of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, Grace Kelly, Elia Kazan and Joanne Woodward. His photos are exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Chicago Art Institute.
Summoned to testify before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities (HUAC)
First production of a play, "Paul Robeson", performed by Avery Brooks; play staged Off-Broadway in 1988
First played "Othello" in London
Moved to London, England
Last film appearance in the omnibus feature "Tales of Manhattan"; appeared with Ethel Waters and Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson
Played an African native in "King Solomon's Mines"
Made first of several visits to the Soviet Union
Made debut at Carnegie Hall in NYC
Retired from public life
Born and raised in New Jersey
Narrated "Native Land", a documentary about civil rights abuses
Was the subject of the documentary "Paul Robeson: Portrait of an Artist"
Played Joe in the London premiere of "Show Boat"
Returned to NYC to recreate his stage role in the film version of "The Emperor Jones"
Again recreated a stage role, that of Joe who sings "Ol' Man River" in "Show Boat"
Visited Madrid, Spain to entertain the International Brigade fighting in the Spanish Civil War
Turned down an offer from the Chicago Opera to star in "Aida" to accept the role of the African chief Bosambo in "Sanders of the River"
Feature film debut in "Body and Soul", directed by Oscar Micheaux; played dual role of an unscrupulous preacher and his virtuous brother
Testified before HUAC
Played professional football in the American Professional Football League in Hammond, Akron and Milwaukee
After a US Supreme Court decision, his passport was restored
Made second film appearance in the experimental "Borderline", shot in Switzerland; co-starred with his wife
Starred in the leading roles of Eugene O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones" and "All God's Chillun Got Wings" at the Provincetown Playhouse; the latter caused controversy over the play's central drama which revolved around a white woman married to a black man
Edited and wrote a column for FREEDOM (dates approximate)
Admitted to the Bar of New York State and briefly worked in a law firm; left when a white secretary refused to take dictation from him
Signed to appear as Joe in the original stage production of "Show Boat"; dropped out because of delays in production
Made last concert tour appearing in New Zealand and Australia
Triumphed onstage as "Othello"; production premiered in Cambridge, MA before moving to NYC in 1943 ; later toured with the show, co-starring Jose Ferrer and his then-wife Uta Hagen
Joined the cast of the Broadway musical "Shuffle Along" (date approximate)
Early stage role in "Simon the Cyrenian"
After failing to renounce his views on the Soviet Union, his passport is revoked
Wrote a column for PEOPLE'S VOICE in the 1940s
The son of a runaway slave turned minister and a schoolteacher, Paul Robeson proved to be an unique figure in American history. A tall, handsome man with a commanding stage presence and mellifluous, booming baritone, he was not only a distinguished actor and singer but also a scholar, athlete and lawyer. Born and raised in New Jersey, Robeson won a scholarship to Rutgers and was only the third black to enroll at the school. He excelled at athletics, earning letters in four sports (basketball, track, baseball and football) and was twice named to the All-American Football Team. Robeson made Phi Beta Kappa and was his class valedictorian. Moving to NYC, he entered Columbia University's Law School, playing professional football for three seasons (1920-23) and acting and singing to help defray the expenses. In 1921, he had an early stage role in the biblically-themed "Simon the Cyrenian" and later joined the cast of the all-black musical "Shuffle Along" in 1922. Admitted to the New York State Bar, Robeson found work at a law firm but left when a Caucasian secretary refused to take dictation from him. Gravitating towards the stage, this singularly versatile talent found success alternately the leads in two Eugene O'Neill dramas, "The Emperor Jones" and the controversial "All God's Chillun Got Wings". As the latter depicted an interracial marriage, it was the subject of debate and condemnation, but the actor triumphed.
His stage success led to film work. Robeson debuted in a dual role of an unscrupulous preacher and his more virtuous brother in Oscar Micheaux's silent "Body and Soul" (1924). While Jerome Kern wanted the singer-actor to originate the role of Joe in the Broadway premiere "Show Boat" (Robeson had even signed a contract), production delays and conflicting bookings led to Robeson being replaced. He did get to play the role in London and his stirring delivery of "Ol' Man River" became the definitive version of the song for generations. Settling in Europe where he felt a person of color could find more diverse employment opportunities, Robeson appeared in the experimental feature "Borderline" (1930). He briefly returned to America to film "The Emperor Jones" (1933), considered by many critics to be his best work despite the inherent flaws of the material. Declining the opportunity to perform in "Aida" in Chicago, he returned to England to undertake the role of an African chief in the ill-advised "Sanders of the River" (1934). He fared only slightly better in a similar role in the first filming of H Rider Haggard's adventure novel "King Solomon's Mines" (1937). Robeson accepted the film version of "Show Boat" (1936) primarily for the money, but it at least provided a record of his signature vocals for "Ol' Man River". As roles for blacks in Hollywood were severely limited to caricatures and menials, he returned to England and appeared in a handful of films that, while routine, at least offered less stereotypical roles. He twice played a dockworker in films that also showcased his rich baritone. "Song of Freedom" (1936) cast him as a laborer turned opera star who discovers he is heir to an African throne while "Big Fella" (1937) teamed him with Elizabeth Welch in an offbeat tale of blackmail and kidnapping. "Jericho/Dark Sands" (1938) saw Robeson portraying a court-martialed American who escapes to Africa. Some find the film charming while others decry its now blatant racist overtones. He was again a noble figure in "The Proud Valley" (1939), playing a coal miner in Wales who sacrifices his life for his fellow workers. It was to be the last of his leading roles. Robeson returned to the USA and made only one other film appearance in the omnibus "Tales of Manhattan" (1942), teamed in a sketch with Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson and Ethel Waters that reduced these fine performers to ridiculous stereotypes as sharecroppers. That same year, he narrated the civil rights documentary "Native Land" which received a very limited release.
Robeson returned to the stage, starring in an acclaimed 1942 production of "Othello" that cause some controversy over his kissing his Caucasian co-star Uta Hagen. The show began in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and went on to play nearly 300 performances on Broadway in 1943 and toured extensively. As the decade wore on, though, Robeson came under attack for many of his political views. Having been warmly welcomed in the Soviet Union, he became a vocal advocate of Communism and other left-wing causes. Willing to risk his career for viewpoints that some found objectionable, he constantly called attention to bigotry and the limited opportunities for persons of color, including picketing the White House and calling for a crusade against lynching. Called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in 1946, Robeson proved a strong presence. Responding to a query as to why he didn't go to live in the USSR, he told the Committee "Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay right here and have a part of it just like you. And no fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear?" Yet, some of his views were controversial, notably his call for black youth not to participate if there was a war with the Soviet Union. Like many other artists of the time, Robeson was blacklisted and his passport was revoked for eight years (1950-58). By the time the US Supreme Court restored his right to travel, his health had begun to fail. In 1958, he published his autobiography, "Here I Stand" but few major newspapers would review it. He twice tried to commit suicide and suffered a series of breakdowns that led him to withdraw from public life. He died of complications from a stroke in 1976. Three years later, he was the subject of the documentary "Paul Robeson: Portrait of an Artist" and over the next thirty years, his reputation as an artist and world citizen was gradually restored.
met while attending Columbia; married on August 17, 1921; became first black woman to head a pathology lab; died in 1965
Robeson was awarded the Stalin Peace Prize in 1952 but was unable to accept it until 1958 when his passport (which had been revoked in 1950) was restored to him.
In 1995, he was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
"I've learned that my people are not the only ones oppressed ... I have sung my songs all over the world and everywhere found that some common bond makes the people of all lands take to Negro songs as their own." --Paul Robeson
"The artist must elect to fight for Freedom or for Slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative." --Paul Robeson